Postal Service and Postal Museum Unveil New Stamp, Exhibit

There was no Blue Angels flyover, but there were still plenty of planes overhead in the atrium of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, where dozens gathered Tuesday for the unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service’s “Air Mail Blue” stamp and the opening of the museum’s “Postmen of the Skies” exhibit.

The stamp, printed in blue and donning a classical look, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the U.S. airmail service and features a drawing of a Curtiss JN-4H biplane.

Another stamp with the same design but printed in red will be issued Aug. 11 in College Park, Maryland to commemorate the transfer of airmail service from the U.S. Army to the Post Office Department.

“Airmail service has been one of our organization’s most significant contributions to America’s growth,” said Postal Service Vice President of Supply Management Susan Brownell. “Single-person flights, carrying bags of mail from one city to another, eventually led to a world-shaping passenger aviation industry and transportation network.”

The Postmen of the Skies exhibit explores the beginning of the U.S. airmail service and the pilots who first flew the mail. The exhibit features items worn by the airmail pilots and tells their stories.

“Our new exhibition invites visitors to witness and experience the birth of commercial aviation,” Director of the National Postal Museum Elliot Gruber said. “Actually, one of the pilots featured in the exhibition flew the De Havilland DH-4 airplane that hangs above our heads right here.”

The exhibit also displays a 1929 airmail board game in which “players rolled dice to move forward and the first pilot to deliver their six letters won the game,” according to the exhibit.

The U.S. airmail service began May 15, 1918 when “a small group of Army pilots delivered mail along a route that linked Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City,” according to the Postal Service.

Head Curator Nancy Pope detailed the story of the first airmail flight.

“Unfortunately for the Post Office, [pilot George] Boyle didn’t head north. He headed southeast and crashed in Waldorf, Maryland,” she said. “His mail was put on a truck to DC and unceremoniously put on a train to New York City. Fortunately, for the Post Office Department, the other three pilots did a magnificent job that day.”

Those three delivered the mail successfully.

Bill Harris, deputy director of Air Force history and museums policies and programs at the Pentagon, noted, ““[The airmail operation] helped redefine the use of aircraft and its role in military doctrine that would be sorely tested in the skies above Europe and the Pacific during the second world war and beyond.”

Today, the Postal Service still uses planes to fly the mail but does not have an official airmail service. The organization uses contractors to carry airmail.

 by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW

APS Interview: A Youthful Perspective on Philately

At the First Day Ceremony for the Mister Rogers forever stamp, APS Editor Martin Miller had the opportunity to talk with Jessica Manack. Jessica, in attendance with her husband and their children, offered a modern perspective on Mister Rogers, stamps and collecting.

Listen to that interview here:

After the event, Jessica explored the APS website (www.stamps.org) and became one of the newest members of the APS. She has become a vocal proponent for both the hobby and the society.

Illinois Bicentennial Stamp Ceremony

by Steven J. Bahnsen

The U.S. Postal Service had a splendid ceremony for the Illinois Statehood forever stamp on March 5. Everything seemed to go right at the event held in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in downtown Springfield, Illinois.

In 1818, Illinois gained statehood. This stamp features a multicolored outline of the state with sun beams within the map rising from the bottom to the top. The stamp was issued in panes of 20.

More than 125 people attended the first-day ceremony, which started with dozens of students from the Glenwood High School chorus in Chatham, Illinois singing The Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful.

The Postal Service had a roomy sales area staffed with friendly clerks in uniform. Other nearby clerks affixed postmarks onto covers with the new stamp. Museum volunteers handed out programs with a cancelled stamp on the outer envelope.

The master of ceremonies was John Reger of WICS-TV. Welcome and greetings were extended by Alan Lowe, executive director of the library and Randy Dunn, co-chairman of the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.

A group of volunteer firefighters presented the colors prior to the National Anthem and Invocation.

The stamp was dedicated by Jacqueline Strako, acting chief customer and marketing officer from the U.S. Postal Service.

Illinois Deputy Governor Leslie Munger gave a talk that preceded a video from Governor Bruce Rauner, who was in Chicago that day.

Springfield Mayor James Langfelder spoke, followed by Illinois State Historian Sam Wheeler, who had the closing remarks.

Celebrating Lunar New Year Stamp Series Continues with Year of the Dog

The U.S. Postal Service kicks off its 2018 stamp program in January with a Lunar New Year forever stamp celebrating the Year of the Dog.

The stamp will be formally issued January 11 at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Year of the Dog begins February 16 and ends February 4, 2019.

This is the 11th of 12 stamps in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series, which features primary art from illustrator Kam Mak, a Hong Kong-born artist who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown and now lives in Brooklyn.

The stamps in the current series, designed by Ethel Kessler, also incorporate elements from a previous Lunar New Year series: Clarence Lee’s intricate cut-paper design of a dog, and the Chinese character for “dog,” drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun. Those elements graced U.S. Lunar New Year stamps issued found in stamps issued from 1992 through 2004.

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage.

The U.S. Postal Service introduced its Celebrating Lunar New Year series, with stamps featuring artwork from Mak, in 2008. The series will continue through 2019 with a stamp for the Year of the Boar. Year of the Dog is being issued as a souvenir sheet of 12 self-adhesive Forever stamps.

The Year of the Dog illustration, originally created using oil paints on panel, depicts an arrangement of lucky bamboo (Dracaena braunii). To the right is a lozenge-shaped piece of red paper with the Chinese character “fu,” meaning good fortune, rendered in calligraphy — a common decoration on doors and entryways during Lunar New Year festivities.

Previous Years of the Dog started in January or February of 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006.

Have a Ball Stamps June 14 at the 117th U.S. Open Championship in Wisconsin

The U.S. Postal Service will issue June 14 a first-of-a-kind stamps with the look — and feel — of actual balls used in eight popular sports, according to a press release.

The Have a Ball forever stamps depict balls used in baseball, basketball, football, golf, kickball, soccer, tennis and volleyball.

A special coating applied to selected areas of the stamps during the printing process gives them a texture that mimics the feel of a: baseball’s stitching; golf ball’s dimples; tennis ball’s seams; soccer ball or volleyball’s textured panels; and, the different raised patterns of a football, basketball and kickball.

The first-day-of-issuance ceremony will be held at 8 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 14, at the 117th U.S. Open Championship in Hartford, Wisconsin. The ceremony will be part of the U.S. Golf Association’s Flag Day celebration. The Postal Service is honored to be part of this special tribute to those who serve or have served in the military. Nearly one of seven postal employees served in the military.

To attend the standing room only ceremony, you must present a 2017 U.S. Open ticket for June 14, 2017, or a free special access ticket available for request only at usps.com/haveaball. Special access tickets are limited and are only good for June 14, 2017. Confirmed acceptance will be provided and is required for admission. The offer does not apply to U.S. Open ticket holders, active military — who will be admitted free — or children under 12 when accompanied by an adult ticket holder or badge holder.

The eight forever stamps will be issued in panes of 16 that include two stamps of each design. While most traditional stamps are square or rectangular in design, these stamps will be round. Stamp artist Daniel Nyari of Long Island City, New York, and stamp designer Mike Ryan of Charlottesville, Virginia, worked with Art Director Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, Virginia to create the stamp images.